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Published: Wednesday, 4/14/2010

Recovery Act funds to illuminate bridge

Lights inside the Veterans' Glass City Skyway's median were intended to illuminate the bridge's sheathed stay cables at night, highlighting them in a manner similar to lighting on the Sunshine Skyway across Tampa Bay and other similar bridges.

But the single row of 42 lights pointed up toward the stays was inadequate for the task.

The Ohio Department of Transportation devised a solution, shifting the lights from the middle to one side of the median and installing a second row of lights on the opposite side, but it didn't have the funds to fix the problem.

Until now. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the department says it has the money to include lighting modifications as part of a $2.2 million project to add maintenance platforms to Toledo's signature bridge, which opened in June, 2007.

The work is expected to require occasional short-term lane closings on the I-280 bridge over the Maumee River, starting this month and continuing until November.

The maintenance platforms account for most of the cost. ODOT officials said the installation amounts to a reversal of an earlier decision that so-called "snooper" trucks - bucket trucks capable of hanging over the bridge's side and angling under it - could handle all of its maintenance needs.

As recently as December, 2008, ODOT said it couldn't afford the cost of doubling the original lighting array, which accounted for $113,400 of the bridge's $237 million price tag.

But after experimenting with light angles, lenses, and patterns, state officials determined that doubling the array was the only way to get the light to shine high up into the stays instead of being blocked by the first one that each beam encountered.

Unlike the Sunshine Skyway and other cable-stayed bridges, the I-280 bridge's stay cables are sheathed in stainless steel. It protects the cables from the elements and provides a shiny surface that reflects sunlight well in the daytime, but their large circumference makes them harder to light from below than stays on other bridges.



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